Read on for a full list of 2021 winter and spring holidays:
Festive occasions are always fun. But this year annual holidays are crucial because they are helping people meet important physical and psychological needs during these strange COVID-19 pandemic times. Holidays can inject a bit of normalcy into our new way of living under various levels of lockdowns. They also provide the ‘good vibes’ we crave while living under constant uncertainty.
During times of uncertainty and danger, people often use rituals to reduce their stress and exert control over their environment. From reciting blessings to raising a glass to make a toast, holiday traditions are full of rituals. Laboratory experiments and field studies show that the structured and repetitive actions involved in holiday rituals can act as a buffer against anxiety by making our world a more predictable place.
Psychologist Michele Brennan explains that the predictability annual special occasions produce fosters reduced anxiety by creating comfort and security especially for the younger members of a family. When we celebrate a yearly holiday it can “take away the anxiety of the unknown and unpredictable. Traditions are a wonderful way to anchor family members to each other, providing a sense of unity and belonging”.
The benefits of holiday celebrations can be felt not only in our personal lives and with our families, especially for children, but also at work too. For employees who aren’t able to work from home during this time, taking a few minutes ‘in the office’ for the team to mark a holiday with a short motivational speech or bakery delivery can do wonders to boost employee moral (and productivity in the process!).
The Power of Holiday Rituals:
Holiday rituals are so powerful because we actively participate in the celebration. They also have many sensory elements to them — smelling foods, seeing lit candles, hearing the rhythm of words as thanks are given, dancing to the beat of music, tasting favorite dishes made with love by family members. This sensory exuberance helps create lasting recollections of special occasions and marks them in our memory as events worth cherishing for our entire lifetimes.
Celebrating these holidays in our socially distanced homes under pandemic lockdowns still subconsciously awakens memories of other times in our lives when we have gone through the same rituals with our friends and family around us. Every time we make a Valentine’s Day card, decorate for the Easter Bunny, drink a St Patrick’s Day beer, or enjoy a slice of Mother’s Day cake — our brain fires up our lifetime of stored festive feelings.
This is why it’s important to maintain rituals associated with celebrations: even if we won’t be experiencing events in the same way, our brains still respond positively. Celebrating under lockdown can still trigger happy memories and bring on good vibes just like the holidays have done for us in years gone by.
Here is a list of of holidays to celeberate and enjoy onging good vibes during winter and spring 2021 listed in order by date.
Chinese New Year — Feb. 12:
This is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. Chinese New Year is associated with several myths and customs. Traditionally, it is a time to honor ancestors and deities. Regional customs and traditions for celebrating the new year vary widely but typically, it is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for an annual reunion dinner. Other traditions include cleaning the house to sweep away any ill-fortune and make way for incoming good luck, lighting firecrackers, and giving money to loved ones in red paper envelopes.
Valentine’s Day — Feb. 14:
This festive occasion is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world. Sweethearts give each other cards and candies or plan a special date to celebrate their love on February 14th. The story of the origin of Valentine’s Day varies. There are a number of martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14, including an account of the imprisonment of Saint Valentine of Rome for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire in the third century.
Mardi Gras — February 16:
French for ‘Fat Tuesday’, it refers to events of the Carnival celebration, beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. The carnival celebrates the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritual Lenten sacrifices and fasting of the Lenten season. The U.S. city of New Orleans is legendary for its festival celebration of Mardi Gras that in non-Corona times includes fancy custume parades. Enjoy a slice of New Orleans’ style King Cake or a beignet with coffee to safely mark the day this year.
International Woman’s Day — March 8:
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Celebrations happen worldwide as groups come together to recognize women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.
Mother’s Day in Europe — March 14:
This day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world. Most of Europe celebrates Mother’s Day this year on Sunday, March 14th. While taking your mother out for a big family lunch will not be possible this year, making ‘mom’ a card, giving her a call, and sending her flowers are nice ways to show your appreciation. This holiday complements similar celebrations honoring family members, such as Father’s Day, Siblings Day, and Grandparents Day.
Pi Day — March 14:
This day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π (pi). Pi Day is observed on March 14 (3/14 in the month/day format) since 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant digits of π. In 2009, the United States House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day. UNESCO’s 40th General Conference decided Pi Day as the International Day of Mathematics in November 2019. Math and science lovers worldwide can safely mark the day this year by watching some of your favorite math-themed Hollywood blockbusters including:
* A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crow. This movie is based on the life of American mathematician and Nobel Laureate John Nash.
* The Imitation Game with Benjamin Cumberbatch. During World War II, the English mathematical genius Alan Turing cracked the German Enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians. Alan Turing is also considered the father of the modern computer.
* The Theory of Everything with Eddie Redmayne. This film is set at the University of Cambridge and details the life of the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. It was adapted from the 2007 memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking.
* Hidden Figures with Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe. This is the story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program. This movie is based on the 2016 non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly.
St Patricks Day — March 17:
Leprechauns everywhere know this Irish holiday is a cultural and religious celebration held on the death anniversary of Ireland’s patron saint, St Patrick. This holiday was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by a variety of Christian churches worldwide. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, plus celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. And you don’t have to be Irish to enjoy the party. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. With the pandemic preventing parades this year, enjoy this fun holiday by munching on festive green cupcakes, drinking a hot Irish coffee, or sipping a cold Guinness beer.
First Day of Spring — March 20 (or Autumn in the southern hemisphere):
Springtime is one of the four temperate seasons, succeeding winter and preceding summer. The first day of spring ushers in ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth. Indeed, as the weather begins to warm, plants outside begin to grow again. Trees and flowers bloom. Daylight hours get longer and brighter as the start of summer approaches. People celebrating spring can mark the day by listening to classical music that celebrates spring, taking a walk in nature, or ‘spring cleaning’ your home. For those living in the southern hemisphere in places like Australia, South Africa, or Argentina, the first day of autumn is an opportunity to celebrate with your favorite fresh seasonal pie.
Persian New Year — March 20:
In Persian culture the first day of spring is also the first day of the first month in the calendar called Farvardin. It is celebrated as Persian New Year, named Nowruz, or ‘new day’. During the Nowruz holiday, people usually make short visits to the homes of family, friends and neighbors. Visitors are offered tea and pastries, cookies, fresh and dried fruits and mixed nuts or other snacks. Many Iranians throw large Nowruz parties as a way of dealing with the long distances between groups of friends and family. This year mark the festive occassion by enjoying some of your favorite Irianian dishes from Persian culture with those who live in your home.
Passover — March 27-April 4:
Also called Pesach in Hebrew, this is a major Jewish holiday that occurs in the spring on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. Passover is traditionally celebrated in Israel for seven days and for eight days among many Jewish people in the Diaspora. In the Bible, Passover marks the Exodus of the Children of Israel from Egyptian slavery, when God “passed over” the houses of the Israelites during the last of the ten plagues. When the Temple in Jerusalem stood, the paschal lamb was offered and eaten on Passover eve, while the wave offering of barley was offered on the second day of the festival. Nowadays,the Passover seder is one of the most widely observed rituals in Judaism. Seder customs include telling the story, drinking four cups of wine, eating matza, and enjoying symbolic foods placed on the Passover Seder Plate. The Seder is the most commonly celebrated Jewish ritual, performed by Jews all over the world. For children, and many adults, a favorite Passover dish is chicken soup with Matzo balls. Make yourself a batch of fresh soup to mark the start of this holiday.
April Fool’s Day — April 1:
This is an annual custom on April 1 consisting of practical jokes and hoaxes. Jokesters often expose their actions by shouting “April Fools!” at the recipient. Mass media can be involved in these pranks, which may be revealed as such the following day. The day is not a public holiday in any country except Odessa in Ukraine, where the first of April is an official city holiday.
Easter — April 4:
Most Christians refer to the week before Easter as “Holy Week”. This festive period is celebrated by many Christians worlwide. Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day after his burial following his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. Easter Sunday is typically celebrated with a big family dinner. Another traditional celebrated at Easter is the Easter Bunny. This character is a children’s folkloric figure and symbol of Easter, depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. Its origin came from German Lutherans in the 1600s. Safe ways to celeberate Easter in Coronvirus times with children include painting decorative eggs, preparing sweet treats for the Easter Bunny’s visit, and making chocolate Easter egg snacks.
Siblings Day — April 10:
This is a holiday recognized annually in some parts of the United States and Canada on April 10, and as Brothers and Sisters Day on May 31 in Europe. This special day honors the relationships of siblings. Unlike Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, it is not federally recognized in the United States, though the Siblings Day Foundation is working to change this. Socially distanced ways to let your siblings know you appreciate them including calling them for a chat or sending them a gift or giftcard.
Hindi New Year — April 12th:
There are numerous days throughout the year celebrated as New Year’s Day in the different regions of India. Observance is determined by whether the lunar calendar is being followed or the solar calendar. Celebrate one of these special days by enjoying your favorite regional curry with those that live in your home. This year the main New Years days for the Indian subcontient are:
April 12 — Hindi New Year
April 13 — Ugadi / Gudi Padwa / Telgui New Year
April 14 — Vaisakhi / Baisakhi / Vishu / Tamil New Year
April 15 — Bengai New Year / Bihu
Ramadan — April 13-May 12:
This important religious holiday happens during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. The observance of Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam and lasts twenty-nine to thirty days, from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next. Fasting from sunrise to sunset is obligatory for all adult Muslims who are not acutely or chronically ill, travelling, elderly, breastfeeding, diabetic, or menstruating. The nightly feast that breaks the fast is called iftar. In years without a pandemic, family and friends would usually gather for a huge celebratory dinner each evening. This year, you can mark this annual holiday by cooking those that live in your home a tasty traditional Ramadan dish for dinner.
Orthodox Easter — May 2:
The Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches continue to use the Julian calendar. Their starting point in determining the date of Orthodox Easter is March 21st, therefore, Orthodox Easter is celebrated at a different time from other Christian faiths. The majority of Eastern Orthodox Christians live mainly in Southeast and Eastern Europe, Cyprus, Georgia and other communities in the Caucasus region, and communities in Siberia reaching the Russian Far East. Expats also live around the world making Orthodox Easter a global celebration.
Cinco de Mayo — May 5:
This is an annual celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. Today Cinco de Mayo is more popularly celebrated in the United States than in Mexico. This festive holiday has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture. It’s also celebrated in Canada, other parts of the Americas, and among North American expats living worldwide. To enjoy Mexican-American culture safely this May 5th, order your household a curbside takeway from your favorite local TexMex restaurant, organize a dinner delivery, or prepare the best feast your kitchen can cook: tacos, burritos, even super nachoes with fresh homemade salasa and guacamole will bring the culture and taste of Mexico to your table.
Mother’s Day — May 9:
A number of countries around the world celebrate Mother’s Day in May including the United States, Canada, and parts of central and south America. This day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. While taking your mother out for a big family dinner will not be possible this year, making ‘mom’ a card, video chatting with her, or sending her a giftcard are all good ways to show your appreciation. This holiday complements similar celebrations honoring family members, such as Father’s Day, Siblings Day, and Grandparents Day.
Eid — May 12 & 13:
Eid ul-Fitr, also called the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”, is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan. Eid was started by the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Depending on the country Eid is celebrated for one to three days. While fasting is a part of Ramadan, it is forbidden to fast on the Day of Eid. A specific prayer is also nominated for this day. As an obligatory act of charity, money is paid to the poor and the needy before performing the Eid prayer. To safely celebrate Eid in your home this year, prepare an Eid feast from this list of favorite Ramadan inspired recipes.
Memorial Day — May 31:
This is a federal holiday in the United States for honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died in the performance of their military duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The holiday is observed on the last Monday of May. Many people usually visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day to honor and mourn those who died while on duty. Many volunteers place an American flag on graves of military personnel in national cemeteries. With many public places facing Coronavirus restrictions this year, you can send cards to your nearest Veteran’s center, Veteran’s hospital, or call the favorite veteran in your life (if you know someone who served) just to say hello.
Father’s Day — June 20:
This is a day of honoring fatherhood and paternal bonds, as well as the influence of fathers in society. It’s commonly celebrated in June in the United States, Canada, parts of Europe and other places around the world. In Catholic countries of Europe, it has been celebrated on March 19 as Saint Joseph’s Day since the Middle Ages. To keep family celebrations safe this year, send Father’s Day cards, organize a family day in nature for your household either hiking or fishing, or bake him his favorite cake. Father’s day complements similar celebrations honouring family members, such as Mother’s Day, Siblings Day and Grandparents’ Day.
Summer — June 21:
At or around the summer solstice (about 3 days before Midsummer Day), the earliest sunrise and latest sunset occurs, the days are longest and the nights are shortest, with day length decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice. The date of the beginning of summer varies according to climate, tradition, and culture. When it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and vice versa. Celebrate the summer solstice by sunbathing, gardening, bake a berry pie, or adding some summer decorations to your home. For those in the southern hemisphere celebrating the start to winter, light some candles, hang a winter wreath, or get out in nature for a long walk.
Add a Dash of Gratitude to Boost Festive Good Vibes:
Finally, since many festive holidays already contain an element of gratitude, perhaps extending this element into your celebrations for all upcoming 2021 special occasions can help lift not only your spirits during this era of social distancing, but also provide an enormous boost to the recipient of your recognition.
The experts at Harvard Health point out that giving thanks can help people feel happier. Harvard Health explains “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships”.
Simple ways to show appreciation including making extra Valentine’s Day cards for your mailman/postwoman, the team that collects your garbage a few times a week, or even for your local police department. This small act of kindness can put a big smile on the faces of people keeping the world turning during lockdown.
For people who like to bake, using your creativity to make a few extra St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes to share with your veterinarian’s office, your local fire department, or even with the staff at your nearby emergency medical center, can also help those key workers feel gratitude for the hard work they are still doing during these precarious times.
Even just picking-up a small selection of goodies from your local bakery (supporting a small business owner in the process too!) and delivering these locally prepared gourmet treats to your family doctor or dentist’s office can not only produce some gratitude good vibes for you but for those teams of frontline workers who support your everyday health.
Didn’t see your favorite winter or spring festive occasion listed? Feel free to share your top holiday in the comments section below.
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